EP115: Conversations With and About My Electric Toothbrush

By Derek Zumsteg.
Read by Jared Axelrod (of The Department of Public Words).

“I read an interesting forum post last night,” my electric toothbrush told me over its low burr.

“Thiff ouff thew be thood,” I said through my mouth of foam.

“It was!” he replied. “Using readily available components, Monkeymonkey turned his Intellibrush into a milk frother.”

I spit into the sink and set my toothbrush in its white ceramic charger. “What would I do with a milk frother?”

“Make cappucinos,” my toothbrush said, with a hint of resignation, as I rinsed and spit again.

“I don’t drink cappucinos,” I said.

“You could start!”

Rated G. Contains a very mild reference to vibrating appliances.

Referenced Sites:
U.S.S. Mariner
Senses Five Press

Comments (32)

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  1. Les says:

    That was a very fun and enjoyable story. I know a story is truly funny if it can make me laugh … out loud … in public.

    I’ve spent some time in the past wondering about what it will be like when mundane appliances have ludicrous amounts of processing power, or AI. They usually end up something like this story, but never as entertaining.

  2. Jim says:

    Discuss this episode in the Escape Pod forums:


  3. L33tminion says:

    That story was made of awesome. And the ending was just great.

  4. monkey says:

    a delightful story of aspiration. i’m going to interview my appliances now to see if i can help them fulfill their dreams. (i suspect my iron that has always wanted to be a pannini grill.)

  5. Mark says:

    That was great! It brought back memories of “Talkie Toaster” from the Red Dwarf episode (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Dwarf_characters#Talkie_Toaster)

  6. […] I’m five weeks in at Clarion West, but I’ve been let out of my cell for a minute because my short, “Conversations With and About My Electric Toothbrush” went up on Escape Pod today. Check it out. […]

  7. Robert Munro says:

    You left out the most important thing in your into. What brand of rice maker were you talking about. Rice lovers of the world demand to know.


    Rob Munro
    Chapel Hill, NC

  8. Dani says:


    I just wanted to come by and stomp your brain weasel!

    You are a wonderful human, and have a wonderful podcast. I’m looking forward to meeting up with you again at this year’s PNME!

    Have a fabulous, relaxing weekend- you deserve it!


  9. […] magazine at http://escapepod.org/ . Today I enjoyed listening to the rather humorous story “Conversations With and About My Electric Toothbrush” and I look forward to discovering more good treasures on their site. I also really like that […]

  10. Shawn says:

    Before the story, the host said he had a $60 solar-powered atomic watch. That just sounds cool…. what’s the model & where do I get one?

  11. Huzzah! I have posted about Escape Pod, and how I have cajoled my system into automagically downloading EP eps to my PPC!

    [c.f. http://happypete.livejournal.com/486747.html ]

  12. Martin R says:

    Good story. Funny though, I wasn’t aware that Sirius Cybernetics made toothbrushes. (-;

  13. Tim Noonan says:

    Toothbrush was a great story, no doubt about it, however!

    It was doubly augmented by an absolutely amazing vocal performance by the narrator. I consider the reading, alone, a piece of art. It is one of the most subtly rich renditions of a conversation, as I’ve ever heard!

    I’m a blind guy, and I listen to a lot of narrated fiction, and way too much speech synthesis, but this stands out as one of the greatest imersive listener experiences I’ve had in a long time.

    And Yes, I loved the story too! 🙂

    I haven’t posted before, but Escape pod is a truely fantastic initiative. Its so refreshing to be able to access literature in the audio modality, and not to have to search far and wide to find good audio material to read, or have to scan and then listen to monotonous synthetic speech renditions of material.

    One of the great qualities of EP is the great job done of matching the right narrator with the story being read. Most times I think this is very well done, and I’d say that there is only one narrator who I find unpleasant to listen to, perhaps because he fancies himself as voice talent, but is not actually suited to reading complex fiction material – in my view.

    Tim (from Sydney)

  14. Andrea says:

    As I was listening to this story (which made me laugh out loud more than once), I clicked over to my favorite web comic, and laughed even harder:
    I feel like I should be afraid, but I’m just not. Thanks for another great story!

  15. Dave (aka Nev the Deranged) says:

    Wow. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this story that much, but Jared Axelrod made this sucker a joy. The allegories to more conventional relationships (both those of couples and those of parents and children) were pretty blatant, but the story was so much fun it worked brilliantly. I was half expecting the cop to say the toothbrush had been used for some illegal purpose, but having it return home like the prodigal appliance was even funnier.

    I just ordered a copy of Shock: Social Science Fiction, (http://www.glyphpress.com/shock/) a pen and paper roleplaying game that is specifically designed to create exactly the kinds of stories that EP specializes in. I can totally see any of the recent stories being played out, and in fact the book contains a short story written about the events of one of the playtest games. I’m really looking forward to trying it- maybe I’ll play a super-intelligent waffle-iron! g

    Thanks, Steve, and thanks Jared, for a great, fun story.

  16. Will Radik says:

    I liked this story. That rice cooker sounds bitchin’.

  17. OsakaGuy says:

    I second Shawn’s request. What is the model of your watch?

    I’ll also say the reading was excellent, great voice acting!

  18. Mike says:

    Very cute. The reading was especially excellent.

  19. ChrisQ says:


  20. David says:

    Fun story, and Jared Axelrod is great at reading these stories. He should do more stories. I loved his voice in Nightshift at the Automart.

  21. Kyle_Carm says:

    Well I have probably the same watch and its a Casio “”2688” GW-500A.

    Its a solar powered automatic time setting to WWV watch.

    Good story, rather humorous and very realistic sounding. I currently have conversations with most of my appliances and and look forward/dread when they finally start to talk back.

    Good story.

  22. Garyfrom jax says:

    Everytime I go by a Starbucks, I keep drifting back to this story, and wondering what kind of milk frother they have, and if its as polite as the one in this story. Haha

    This is my first comment to Escapepod. I usually frequent your cousin programs over at Farpoint Media, and decided to give you a listen after hearing podholes.
    I started around episode 90. Escape pod is the one podcast I play as soon as I download it. Thank you for your hard work Steve.

  23. Peter K. says:

    Life imitates art?

    My wife just saw a commercial for this on TV and pointed out to me that there’s a new milk-frother in the making.


  24. […] hygiene is important to me. so, i was delighted to find a post by on boingboing.net to a podcast at escape pod featuring a talking electric toothbrush. so, grab a beverage, hit play and enjoy. (you may want to […]

  25. Hi, If you looking for electric toothbrush.
    I Recommend >buy electric toothbrush

  26. […] loud and give the toothbrush a funny voice, just like the one in a lovely reading you can hear on Escape Pod. And unlike “The Unsolvable Deathtrap,” this one you can read to your […]

  27. […] stories which I had really enjoyed. One is among my absolute EP favourites: Derek Zumsteg’s ”Conversations With and About My Electric Toothbrush”. This charming (and well-read) story features an electric toothbrush whose desire in life is to be […]